Federal Alcohol Bill Hits a Snag

Kane’s Beverage News Daily (need subscription) reports today that a “well-placed lobbyist” in the industry informed them that hearings on HR 5034 –the congressional bill on alcohol regulation and shipping–have been put on hold because of potential constitutional problems with the bill. Proponents denied this to be the case, but hearings have indeed been postponed. Although never being placed on the official Judiciary committee calendar, staff have been lining up parties to testify on July 14.

According to Kane’s:

[S]everal lobbyists have told us the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau has drafted a letter to be signed by John Manfreda, administrator, strongly opposing the measure on constitutional grounds. Like all policy statements by federal agencies, the letter had to be reviewed by a number of agencies, including Treasury, since TTB is a Treasury agency, as well as the White House Office of Management & Budget, and the Justice Department. We’re told one of those agencies is holding the letter.

Consumers can only hope bureaucrats will hold on to this letter–and hold up congressional proceedings–forever. But that’s unlikely. First, it’s unclear as to what constitutional problem the bill might have. Congress has authority to regulate commerce, and that includes giving states some powers to do the same. And wholesalers are determined. If this version isn’t quite right, they surely will develop another.